male manager
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Despite all the good that’s come from the #MeToo movement, it’s also incited backlash from (mostly) men who claim that the movement has gone “too far.” And it turns out the sentiment may be having professional consequences for women. Lean In, the organization founded by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, recently conducted a survey that found that nearly half of male managers are uncomfortable with mentoring female employees.

In an op-ed written for published on July 24th, Sandberg wrote that the survey found that male managers were 3.5 times more likely to think twice about getting dinner with female subordinates than male ones. They were also reportedly five times more likely to reconsider a business trip with a female colleague. Sandberg noted that this hesitancy creates a huge obstacle for women in the workplace, arguing, “we need to close the mentorship gap.”

As Sandberg noted in her article, women are still underrepresented when it comes to leadership positions. According to the Center for American Progress, in 2017 women held almost 44% of positions in S&P 500 companies, but within those companies, only 25% of executive and senior-level roles went to women. Only 6% of CEOs in these companies were female. And this inequality was comparable in the legal, medical, financial, and academic fields. If women had the same access to mentors as their male peers, perhaps these numbers would increase.

Female employees shouldn’t be punished for their male superiors’ anxiety about sexual harassment accusations. At the end of the day, individuals are responsible for their own conduct, and if a male manager is worried about being alone with a female subordinate, that should raise concerns about his behavior, not hers.

We look forward to a day when men and women are truly equal in the workforce, which means having equal access to mentors, too.